‘How Do You Write?’…and other questions I can’t effectively answer via text message.


This is Truman Capote. He can help you write. I am Michael Thomas. I cannot.

I’m not a spiritual writer by any means.

You won’t hear me talk too heavily about inspiration, or lack thereof. I don’t discuss mood, or life experience. For every Oscar Wilde, there’s got to be nearly a hundred Stephanie Meyers hoping their garbage idea will be the big break that throws them into a world of caviar, vampires, and movie rights.

My mentor is one of those finicky spiritual writers, and I certainly don’t intend to defile her character in any way, but she is also hysterically broke.

“I want to retire, and live on a boat in a swamp, probably in Florida.” She zealously explained.

I loosely translated that to, “I pretty much enjoy abject poverty”

If that’s her idea of a good time, I most certainly won’t stop her. I’m cynical, but I’m no dream killer.

My passion to be published arises usually when I browse J.Crew catalogues. I currently don’t have almost $120 for a cotton raglan shirt. I’m only 23, and this is the 21st century, so logically speaking, I shouldn’t have almost $120 for a cotton raglan t-shirt without illegally peddling narcotics, which I am against, but becoming increasingly not againt.

What I am unquestionably against is having not one pair of Cole Haan shoes in my closet considering I’ve collected their catalogues  for the last half decade.

That’s pretty much injustice if i’ve ever encountered it. An injustice I intend to die fighting.

More questionable than the lack of Cole Haan in my closet are the questions I’m asked in regards to the art of writing.

Every so often I receive a request to write an essay for someone followed usually by a dollar amount ranging from damn-near nothing, to the cost of lunch for a few days. Even less often, I receive an email or text message that says quite simply, “How do you write?”

To which, I rarely ever have a response. Mostly because I’m unsure if I’m being asked a trick question. Text voice is pretty hard to decipher.

If you are asking for writing advice….I don’t know what to tell you.

You did compose the email.

You were able to sound out letters when placed adjacent to one another and eventually, you formulated a sentence.

You’re on the right track. Keep it up, add a tragic twist in the plot and you’re pretty much Nicholas Sparks.

If you’re asking my specific advice from the spiritual element of writer, I have no advice to give you. Firstly, I’m not published. Do you take medical advice from a student who hasn’t finished med school? Do you frequently seek the legal advice from a student who hasn’t passed the Bar Exam?

And so it is the same way I have no real advice to offer you about writing from the standpoint of a man whose notebooks smell of coffee and failure.

I can tell you what works for me.

1- Cut out pictures of blazers you want from J.crew that you can in no sensible way afford.

2- Tape the image to the back of your writing notebook.

3- Refer to them before writing.

4- After writing, ask yourself if what you’ve written will put you closer to earning previously mentioned blazer or perhaps a Pulitzer

If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.


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